Thursday, July 24, 2008

2008 Topps Daric Barton

Who is this? A's first baseman Daric Barton.

What is this? An autograph card from 2008 Topps, card number HA-DB.

Where'd I get it? Sports Card Alley.

How much did it cost? Two bucks.

Why is this so special? This is the last card from the "3 for $5" case I bought a few weeks ago. At least I think it's the last card, I've lost track. Daric was a huge prospect for the A's a couple of years ago. A first round pick of the Cardinals, Daric was traded to the A's in the Mark Mulder deal. He was on top prospects lists all over the place and was the future of the franchise. After playing in minor league all star games and Futures games (and getting moved from catcher to first base because he was blocked by Kurt Suzuki) Daric made his debut last year and got on base safely in all 18 games he played. So of course now that the crazy hype is in full swing he gets his shot to be the everyday first baseman for the A's and the OBP machine hits... .224. Plus he's on the DL and is out until August. Ain't that how it always works. Daric is only 22 and he'll probably turn out to be a solid first baseman who can get on base, but unless he starts hitting homers right and left you can forget about him being a 'hot prospect' ever again. That's how prospecting works, If they ain't Pujols in 5 years it's a common card. I'd root for Daric if his signature wasn't so shoddy. What what does |>B'l mean? Work on your handwriting Daric, and the OPS will follow. At least his low batting average ain't hurting him with the ladies...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2005 Fan Favorites Mark Lemke

Who is this? Mr. Dirt himself, the immortal Mark Lemke.

What is this? An autograph card from 2005 Topps Fan Favorites, card number FFA-MLE.

Where'd I get it? Boston Sports Cards offa eBay.

How much did it cost? $5.99 with FREE SHIPPING MOJO!

Why is this so special? I'm a little bit in love with Mark Lemke. He's the hero of the stolen 1991 World Series, subject of the greatest card ever, inspiration for the Homestar Runner cartoon, his career is most similar to Sibby Sisti's and he is now one of the Braves broadcast crew who get me through many a long night at work. These guys did a better job summing up his career than I could so go there for a full bio.

This is my first certified Lemmer signature, mainly because this is his only certified signature. I found this out by poking around in Beckett's alphabetical checklist. I have an old copy from the early '00s that is mostly useless nowadays. There have been so damn many cards released in this century that the old book is the size of one of the old Sport Americana Annual price guides while the latest one is the size of the Yellow Pages from a large city. Beckett offers player checklists online now so there's probably not going to be another phone book put out for a long time, but I'm the kind of guy who likes ruffling through a lot of pages when I do research. The last time I was at the local card shop, I snuck a peek at their copy of the book. It had all the cards up till 1998 that were in the old book, and his 2005 Fan Favorites cards. That's it. Lemmer's been in one release since he retired. He's not even in any team issues sets. It's a travesty! Of course this means if I want to become the Mark Lemke Supercollector, I can use my old book as a checklist which is cool. I've got a start on his 2005 releases here now. If it weren't for those goddamn press plates, ould actually maybe pull off getting one of every Lemmer card. I've got the autograph though, which is better than an old hunk o' tin.

Friday, July 18, 2008

2007 TriStar Authentics Tyler Colvin

Who is this? Tennessee Smokies outfielder Tyler Colvin.

What is this? An autograph card from 2007 TriStar Authentics.

Where'd I get it? Atlanta Sports Cards.

How much did it cost? A buckaroo.

Why is this so special? Atlanta Sports Cards has a binder with a bunch of auto and relics cards for sale ranging from a buck to 15 dollars and every time I go I try to pick up a few dollar cards. Normally they're scrubeenees from minor league sets that flamed out years ago, or really obscure Major Leaguers. Or guys like Jaret Wright who fit both categories. This time though a prospect cought my eye that I had actually heard of before. I didn't really know who Tyler Colvin was, but I'd heard of him and it was a card from last year so the chances were good he wasn't managing a car dealership by now. So who is this guy?

Tyler was a first round pick of the Cubs in 2006, number 13 overall. He's supposedly a top prospect, but don't ask Cubs fans about that. He's had a rough season so far this year, but is starting to get his stroke back. With the trade deadline coming up and the Cubs in a fierce battle in the central, he may get moved soon. He's an interesting guy to watch at least, lots of entertainment for only a buck. The autograph is on the clear TriStar sticker which doesn't look great on this card (and the sticker was pasted off center) but the signature looks good. I like the flourish on the T and the C. Maybe the Braves can convice the Cubs that Tex would be a good second baseman for the stretch run and we can get Tyler in a a big package of prospects.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

1995 Signature Rookies Tetrad Jaret Wright

Who is this? Indians pitching prospect Jaret Wright.

What is this? An autograph card from 1995 Signature Rookies Tetrad, card number F12.

Where'd I get it? Atlanta Sports Cards.

How much did it cost? A buck.

Why is this so special? I still can't believe the Yankees got suckered into paying this guy. Ha! This is a pretty bizarre looking card. Forget the oh-so-'90s SR FORCE font on the top (teal and purple, brilliant!), There's so much other craziness going on it's hard to list it all. First there's the tilted photo with the three cutouts of various body parts. Another go-to '90s technique. There's several flags for unnecessary use of foil, first in the 'baseball' designation under the SR FORCE just so we know Jaret isn't playing lacrosse, the typical unreadable foil name (in script, no less) and the mysterious "You make the call!" logo which probably meant something in 1995 but certainly doesn't now. The best is the "1 of 6000" foil stamping alone with the hand written 1551/2500 serial number. It's like they printed up the cards, got Jaret to sign as many of them at gunpoint that they could then added the second serial number later. I guess this means the unsigned card is limited to 3500 since we know that no card company during the heady '90's would ever overproduce one of their cards. The back is worse than the front. More purple and teal, more inset photos of body parts, and the utterly fantastic hologram sticker that was stuck on the card by some intern guaranteeing that this card had an authentic sticker stuck to it.

Wright was a bit of a phenom for the Indians in '97 and '98, going 20-13 for the Tribe before arm problems turned him into a reclamation project for the Braves. Reclaim they did, as Jaret went 15-8 with a 3.26 ERA for the Braves. He immediately bolted for the Yankees but left his talent behind in his Braves' locker. Can you say 6.08 ERA? I'm hard on ol' Jaret since he was one in a line of free agents that bolted from the Braves for more money only to suck in their new homes. Jaret did turn one league-average year for the Yankees in 2006 to earn his 21 million dollar contract. He then turned in 10 and a third forgettable innings in relief for the Orioles in '07 and was cut from the Pirates in spring training. Poor Jaret. The signature is interesting though. I suppose I can see "Ja" with a flourish on the end, but I have no clue where Wright is supposed to be. I suppose it could be that bit under the flourish, but with the oversize J it looks more like July. Good month to post this card I suppose.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

2005 Fan Favorites Frank Robinson

Who is this? Orioles outfielder Frank Robinson.

What is this? An autograph card from 2005 Topps Fan Favorites, card number FFA-FR.

Where'd I get it? Champion Sports Cards, from a pack.

How much did it cost? How much were packs of this stuff anyway? Three or four bucks I think.

Why is this so special? Ok, I haven't gotten off to a good start this month. Don't expect to see another auto 'till next week either save some miracle. To make up for my slack here's an auto of Frank Robinson. There's maybe a handful of people who have had anywhere near the kind of baseball career Frank has. I think this might be a short print too, but who gives a crap. It's Frank Robinson. Short prints do not make him special, Frank makes him special. Go here to learn more about Frank if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about. Frank freakin' Robinson, man... Cards like this pulled out of packs mean I should not be griping about my luck ever.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

1996 Leaf Signature Extended Series Chuck McElroy

Who is this? Angels pitcher Chuck McElroy.

What is this? An autograph card from 1996 Leaf Signature Extended Series.

Where'd I get it? A big pile 'o autos I won.

How much did it cost? More than the nickel or so it's worth.

Why is this so special? Chuck was a serviceable lefty relief pitcher who played 13 years in the league for 8 different teams. He had 38 wins and 17 saves in 654 appearances. His lifetime ERA is almost a half run lower than the league average, and he got just under a strikeout per inning in his career. He was once traded for Lee Smith. He retired in 2001 and that was probably the last time any of you out there thought of him, if you've ever thought of him at all. None of that matters because I LIKE CHUCK MCELROY. I like his name. Say it out loud. Chuck McElroy. I like his big ol' Urkel glasses. I don't even mind that he was a Cub. Chuck was a lefty setup guy in the '90s and he went out and did his job, usually well. You need reliable bullpen guys, just ask any fan of a team without them. He never pitched for the Braves (which may be why I have good memories of Chuck) but this card is still one of my more prized sigs.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

2007 UD Masterpieces Chris Duffy

Note - for the foreseeable future, I'll be posting cards on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with an occasional card on the weekend. One a day is a little too much right now.

Who is this? Pirates outfielder Chris Duffy.

What is this? An autograph card from 2007 UD Masterpieces, card SG-CD.

Where'd I get it? Sports Card Alley.

How much did it cost? Two bucks.

Why is this so special? I really like the UD Masterpieces set so I snagged this card out of the 3 for 5 case. Duffy seems to have been bitten by the Pirates curse. He was the Bucs' starting center fielder out of Spring Training in '06, hit poorly and was optioned to the minors. Instead of reporting to the minor leagues, he just went home. He eventually returned and was reinstalled as the Pirates' center fielder. However he injured his shoulder last year and has not played in a major league game since last July. The Pirates recently moved him to the 60-day DL to open up a roster spot and may be blocked in the organization now by center field prospect Andrew McCutcheon. Things aren't looking too good for the Arizona State star and another Pirates prospect might be going by the wayside. The card is nice at least, the black frame bordering Duffy's portrait and autograph on the canvas-style textured cardboard looks really good and you have to love that signature. I have no idea what those loops and hooks are supposed to be but it is an elegant graph. This won't pay for the kids' college or anything, but it looks good in the binder with the rest of my Masterpieces set.